December 12, 1888       


           IT FOOLED 'EM!

There is probably no walk of life more crowded with thrilling adventures than railroading. Last Saturday evening conductor Spears, who has been running extra for Mr. Monsley while the latter has been in Chicago, made an extra run to the county seat.  Just as the train pulled out of Ewart, on a piece of straight track and everybody aboard was feeling congenial, the  on the track looking ahead at an object that was twinkling along about four miles down the road, apparently the headlight of an approaching train.  Everybody aboard felt that they had been saved from a frightful wreck.  The train was back on the sidetrack at Ewart, and after waiting about a half hour for the train to come up, Conductor Spears overheard a citizen of Montezuma complain about the delay, as the county seat was to be ablaze with the flaring light of electricity for the first time.  A sudden suspicion began to bare itself into the “cons” intellect.  He wanted to go on.  He called “fatty” to one side and said something to him.  He kicked the ground, looked at the highlight still glimmering in the distance, and got on the train yelled, “all aboard!  


April 3, 1901

SMALL POX  --  Assessor Davis, of Pleasant Township, is down with the small pox at Ewart.  He is quarantined and great care is being taken to prevent a further spread of the disease.  The case is a mild one.  Dr. F. E. Vest has the patient in charge.  (April 3, 1901 from local newspaper:  Montezuma Republican?)


January 22, 2000 -- Des Moines Register 

Ewart, IA


It is in a farmhouse living room near here that Democrats

from Pleasant Township will gather Monday night.


Margaret Tubaugh (Stemsrud)  will plug in the 30-cup coffeepot. She'll take out her special buttermilk sugar cookies with raisins pushed in the middle and put them on the table by the bay window.


Then Tubaugh and her neighbors will sit down and decide who they want to represent them as the Democratic nominee for president.

This is the kind of quaint scene that makes up Iowa caucus lore. It's also disappearing.


The Democrat and Republican parties gradually have moved away from having precinct caucuses in private residences. Since the mid-1980s, Iowa law has dictated that caucus meetings be held in public buildings whenever possible. That's why most caucuses Monday night will be in schools, fire stations, courthouses and community buildings. According to Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Shannon Tesdahl, only 6 percent of the more than 2,100 Democratic caucuses this year will be in homes. Public sites are usually handicapped-accessible and easy to find and have plenty of parking, she said.

Officials also worry that a caucus host might attempt to influence the outcome. Years ago, according to caucus historian Hugh Winebrenner, someone started a fire as a distraction, then quickly elected a slate of delegates while volunteer firemen and other residents doused the flames. Tubaugh would never dream of pulling such a stunt. She is a 77-year-old widow and great-grandmother, and she's just looking forward to an informal gathering with her neighbors.


"You get to see all the people you haven't talked to for a while," she said. "It's a rural area, and sometimes I have two or three. Sometimes I have 12 or 13. It just depends on the weather and what people are doing." Quaint? Sure.


But this informal setting also seems to fit rural Iowa: Poweshiek County Democrats sitting in Tubaugh's rocking chair or on one of her cushy couches, deciding who they want for the next president of the United States. No fuzzy boom microphones. No candidates dropping in for a photo op. No crowds. Just Tubaugh in her 108-year-old house, telling her neighbors why she supports Vice President Al Gore. Her idea of strong-arming is a Gore portrait clipped to her refrigerator.


Tubaugh has held a caucus for at least 30 years, except when she worked for the federal government's conservation office.
The meetings usually don't last much longer than an hour. Attendees make pitches for their candidates, then select delegates. Sometimes they introduce resolutions they want on the party platform. Tubaugh doesn't remember any heated arguments. She does remember a big crowd one year when supporters of the candidates had to divide themselves into the living room, dining room, bedroom and pantry.


This year, she knows a retired schoolteacher who will come. There are also a retired bank clerk, a retired farmer and a union man she expects to show up. A high school student or two, encouraged to attend by their government teacher, might show up and lower the average age.

Republicans from the township this year will drive into Montezuma to meet at the Poweshiek County Courthouse.

The Democrats could meet there or in the church in this no-longer-on-the-map town. They could meet in the tiny metal community building, but it doesn't have running water. "It's cold, and you have to heat it up," Tubaugh said. "It's just easier to do it here."


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